Coax tulips, hyacinths, muscari and tiny, bright iris reticulata bulbs into early flowering by putting them out in cold for a few weeks in now before bringing them into the warmth and light. Bulbs sold as ‘prepared’ have already been stored at low temperatures so they bloom quickly when planted. But, it’s easy to force almost any bulb yourself, and using vintage crocks and pots means an even more sublime – and early – springtime.
Plant bulbs, tip pointing upwards, 10cm deep in multipurpose compost and water lightly in. Stand the bowls and pots in a cold shed or porch, or wrap the whole planter in a plastic bag and store at the bottom of the refrigerator. Later for a few weeks. This drop in temperature allows the flower buds to fully develop inside the bulb.
When end shoots emerge, move the unwrapped pots into the light and warmth. Top with mosses and use twiggy sticks to support taller blooms.